Induction Programme increases knowledge of Vanuatu Parliamentarians
(Port Vila, Vanuatu) - Newly elected parliamentarians in Vanuatu have completed a three day induction programme, feeling confident in their knowledge of how Parliament works and what their duties and responsibilities as MPs are.
The youngest Member of Parliament (MP), Hon Alfred Maoh, 34 years, who has been elected for the first time, found the induction programme very useful.
“I am a newcomer and I needed the support provided by the induction program. It was comprehensive and covered a lot of areas I needed information on,” said Hon Maoh, MP for Santo.
He added that the induction programme was not going to end for him today and that he would take the initiative to continue up-skilling.
“I have to take this information to my community and teach them about the role of MPs and the role of the Opposition. Because the community does not understand the role of MPs, they think that the MP is a social worker for them. It is important that they understand all the roles of MPs. We work with communities and people, but that’s just part of the role of MPs.”
The induction programme covered a range of areas including: the constitutional basis of Parliament, the separation and balance of powers, the roles and responsibilities as MPs, how the parliament operates, parliamentary services available to MPs as well as the work of Vanuatu’s accountability agencies and the relationship between MPs and these agencies.
The parliamentarians also heard from Hon Rick Barker, former Minister and member of the New Zealand Parliament, Hon Steve (Stephanie) Chadwick, former Minister and member of the New Zealand Parliament as well the Deputy Speaker of the Queensland Parliament, Dr Mark Robinson on their experiences as MPs.
The MP for Tanna, and Minister for Justice, Hon Thomas Laken is also a first time MP. He was particularly impressed by the knowledge and experience shared by the presenters.
“It would also be very good if we can adopt some of the good practices from other Parliaments, for example from the Queensland Parliament,” said Hon Laken. The Parliament of Vanuatu is twinned with the Queensland State Parliament of Australia through the Australian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
He suggested that the Clerk of Parliament organize refresher courses on the Standing Orders and the Constitution.
“The induction programme was very good. Some of us are from rural areas and we don’t really know about what goes on here. Many of these things are quite new for us.”
He added that it would have been beneficial for all the MPs to be present, noting that some of the first time MPs, as well as, some returning MPs were not present during the induction programme.
The 10th Parliament of the Republic of Vanuatu is made up of 52 MPs, 24 of whom are first time parliamentarians. Over the three day induction programme, more than 75 percent of the MPs were in attendance.
Long-time parliamentarian, and returning MP for Pentecost Hon David Tosul, has been in Parliament for 10 years. He attended the induction programme and said he learnt new things.
“It does not matter whether you are an old or new MP, this induction workshop is very useful. I want to do my job better as an MP. I learnt new things from this induction programme which will help me become a better MP,” said Hon Tosul.
The induction programme is an initiative of the Vanuatu Parliamentary Secretariat in partnership with the Australian National University’s Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI) and the United Nations Development Programme Fiji Multi-Country Office (UNDP).
UNDP supports Parliaments in several Pacific islands countries and Vanuatu is one of them. UNDP partnered with CDI to deliver a similar induction programme for Vanuatu Parliamentarians in 2008. Last year, UNDP organized a similar induction programme for parliamentarians in Tonga, Kiribati, and Tuvalu and for the Senators in the Federated States of Micronesia Congress.
Shobhna Decloitre, UNDP Communications Specialist on (678) 5465658 or Shobhna.firstname.lastname@example.org or Stephanie Mailesi, Office of the Clerk on (678) 22229